I'm four months into a fairly intense relationship, and drama and mental health issues have reared their ugly heads. As someone who has had recent mental health problems of my own, I'm feeling a little shaky about the whole thing; can the hive mind give me another perspective?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I started dating a woman, "J" four months ago. Before that we were very close friends - the term "work wife" almost applies since we work for the same company. We've shared highs and lows and helped each other through some of the toughest times in our respective lives over the six years that we've known each other - to put it in perspective, we've both been suicidal before and we're each responsible for talking the other down off the ledge at least once. It was only four months ago, though, that we both realised that our feelings ran deeper than friendship, and we decided to give a romantic relationship a shot.
Our relationship is very intense, and whilst I'm aware that that's the limmerent phase of the relationship running its course that doesn't mean that I feel it any less keenly. "I love you"s were traded fairly early on. We think alike about most things, we have very similar interests (but different enough to show each of us new aspects of the world), and we have very similar attitudes to life in general (and although I'm an avowed freethinker and skeptic, and she's more of a hippie, holistically-oriented person, we get on incredibly well). On top of all that, the sex is amazing - I'm being honest when I tell her I've never had better or felt closer to a lover, and she says the same to me (I have no reason to disbelieve her on this score). The only real downside to things most of the time is that we're semi long-distance, to the tune of ~250mi. We see each other at least every other weekend and we Facetime most nights to make up for it.
All of which would mean that we were both happy with how things were going. However, some recent changes at work put J in a bad space, mentally; she was unable to get out of bed for two days in a row. Now, knowing her history I know that this is a really bad sign; as we'd previously agreed when discussing such possibilities I called her therapist and her therapist in turn called her, and soon enough things were fixed up to the point where she could continue to function. But she's left feeling extremely paranoid about our relationship.
You see, J has had a bad history with relationships. She was in an abusive marriage for years and, like many abuse victims, still carries the scars around with her, in the form of the belief that by leaving that marriage she destroyed her ex's life, and that as a result she doesn't deserve to be loved. The upshot of that - and these are her words, not mine - is that she's self-sabotaged every relationship since then rather than let herself be loved in the way that she wants to be loved. The recent relapse into depression that she suffered has brought all of these thoughts back to the fore, and so she says she is almost expecting me to break it off with her.
I too have a rough history with relationships. I, too, was in an abusive marriage, though where J's was physically abusive the abuse I suffered was all in the form of control-freakery, verbal abuse and gas-lighting. One of my ex-wife's favourite ways to get me to come back after we'd had a row was to say that she wasn't loveable, that she didn't deserve me and that I should find someone else (all the time knowing, of course, that I would move to reassure her about all of these things, which I did).
So you can see how J's worries have been setting off alarm bells in my otherwise reasonably well-adjusted brain. I've reassured her that I don't want to leave her, and that I do see a shared future for us, but even so it sent me spiralling back into my own dark place to be having that kind of conversation again. I've made an appointment with my therapist to talk it over.
Were this person purely my lover, and not also my best friend of many years, I would be thinking hard about whether or not to bail at this point, mean as that may sound. At four months in I don't know if I have the capacity to support her in her darkest times, much as I love her (and much as I've done it before when we weren't romantically entangled). But the events of a recent weekend, in which my non-answering of emails (because I was out and don't check email on my phone by habit) caused her to send further emails saying that she was scared and asking if this was me doing the slow fade, have made me wonder just how much instability I'm capable of coping with.
I'm not one for walking away from problems; I'd much rather fix them. And I'm loyal to those whom I love. But this is hard for me to untangle, so I have to ask: can anyone give me any perspective on this? Is there a way I can make this work, or are we doomed no matter what?